How technology is shaping the artworld.


Update on the app progress: ArtGuru will now notify you with push notifications about upcoming exhibitions and news in the artworld. You can download the app here:

Last week I have been discussing the impact of the tech industry on the arts in terms of its curatorial implications. That left me wondering how the tech industry is affecting the artist itself. If you follow us on Twitter (if you don’t than you should now), than you may have seen the article we have shared by Shutterstock. I went on to research digital art and got intrigued how artists include technology into their art making process.

As mentioned in other post before, our lives are revolving around what we can and can’t do with the help of technology. So it was only a matter of time before artists picked up on new technologies in their creating process.

Last year Conrad Bodman curated Digital Revolution at the Barbican in London. Alongside devices I remembered from my childhood, like the original Game Boy and the first Sims, the exhibition showcased new pieces by artists who are actively engaged with digital technologies. One example are The Treachery of Sanctuary by Chris Milk. Rather than putting the visitor in the role of the observer, he becomes part of the art. Here, digital technology creates a stage, turning everyone and everything into art. There is also the aspect of originality. No two artworks will ever be the same. As soon as you step from the stage, the art is gone with you.

There are other approaches in cooperating digital data into art. The artists duo Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead are using news and RSS feeds, reshape them and by doing so creating art pieces representing our modern world. In an interview with Deezen, Thomson says something that, I feel, is the most important aspect of working with digital technologies: “ […] we’re just artists that work within the contemporary art context [with] all of the kinds of concerns that we share with artists that might be working sculpturally or might be working with paint, or any kind of material.”

And we might not be aware of this, but we all do create art on a daily basis. Instagram and Snapchat for example are turning us into artists, sharing our work globally (or only for 10 seconds for that matter). A good example is this guy. You can follow him on Twitter too.

Norwegian graphic designer Geir Ove Pedersen and his Snapchat Art



And he is only one example of the artists we have to watch out for. With the introduction of social media digital artists, or artists in general, can work more independently. We don’t have to rely anymore on curators and the big names in the artworld to tell us what is good and what is bad art. If we don’t like it, we won’t share it.

And this is not only a huge advantage for us, but also for communities who are not fortunate enough to receive any kind of funding or other financial recognition. The Atlanta Blackstar has recently published an article highlighting the importance of digital technology for African Artists. With the introduction of broadband and fiber-optic in many African towns, it is now possible for artists to get their work out there. That does not only make them accessible for their local audience, but can spread their work globally. The art-market, once hugely concentrated on leading art galleries and experts, is now open to a new kind of audience and curating style.

But despite the advantages it is providing us with, there is already the feeling out there that technology will estranges us from ourselves.  If we are stuck, we are looking for an app to help us and our smartphone is entertaining us during the hours of our morning commute. But as Papermag put it: digital technology can be both, a gods end and a soul sucker. The Eyebeam’s 2015 art and technology showcase tried to put the humanized side of technology in the foreground. And if you want to reclaim your privacy, Allison Burtch has just got the right thing for you: a small box that cuts out cellphone frequency, turning every conversation quiet.

But where else can digital lead us? I have shortly mentioned in the last blog post the artist Olafur Eliasson. He has taken what technology is offering us to generate a social impact with his invention called Little Sun. Little Sun is a solar lamp in the shape of a sunflower, creating light where there is no access to other forms of electricity. Its success does heavily rely on donations and is therefore an artwork sponsored by the public.

And there is certainly more out there. Digital becomes a new material for the artists while creating new ways of how the audience can engage with art. And it is only a matter of time until the major galleries and museums will acknowledge this art form and actively support it.



Why the arts need the tech industry

woman in gallery4


ArtGuru has launched. Couldn’t get more exciting? Well, it certainly can. ArtGuru is now available for every iOS device owner in the UK. One click here and you can start collecting: There are some inspirations on what to look for in older blog posts. So have a scroll through. Use ArtGuru wherever smartphones are allowed. Don’t forget though to leave your selfie-stick in the umbrella stand.

After all the travels around the capital, I thought it was time to step back a bit. Recently I have followed several discussions about the future of the internet, the digital world as we know it. The impulse for this blog entry gave me an article on TechCrunch by Kim Gordon (@KimberlyDGordon). You can find it here:

I am sharing her opinion that the arts, when it came to digital, where always a bit behind. And that the apps, that were already out there were just an addition rather than a new input. That does not mean however that the arts have never tried.  Ever wandered around a museum and seen a rather sporadic distribution of QR-Codes? These somewhat clumsy stickers, wanting you to hover with your smartphone in front of the caption to somehow improve your experience? Or only recently the uprising of museum specific apps. Just last week the The Metropolitan Museum of Art published their first app and if you want to head over to see Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican, you can download their specific app. Now, I love what they are doing, as I am part of this generation who has their smartphone with them all the time and want to use it as much as possible. But there limits. Internal storage limits to be precise. On the one hand I want to take something away from the museum or gallery I have visited. And by something I don’t mean the ten paged flyer that will end up on the bottom of my bag. But I also don’t want to have five screens full of apps I have only used once and possibly won’t use in the near future. Ideally I want something I can share with people that aren’t with me at the moment, something I can carry with me wherever I am.

Platform is becoming the buzzword of this time. If you live in Plymouth or have followed the arttech news in recent days, you might have come along Artory. Instead of concentrating on one particular museum, they are incorporating the whole town. You can collect artmiles, which you can exchange for other products, for example a free coffee in the café gallery. You’ll be more likely to visit again, and if it is just for that free coffee. In the end, we are all voucher-queens deep inside. Addtitionally museums make some revenue and maybe even attract a crowd that would have not gone there in the first place.  The app also recommends exhibitions and reviews them. One app, all you need. For Plymouth, that is.

But if you don’t live in Plymouth, than you can wave now from the far and swipe through your screens of one-time-used apps. Maybe we shall start the next part a bit more exciting.

Augmented reality! Woo. Or, in easy words: seeing something that isn’t there. (If that happens to you without any technological device though, we can’t help here). I don’t know how often you have been in that situation but have you ever experienced that piercing question in your head while walking through the galleries of London: How would that painting/print look on my wall? Is there an app for that? Yes, there is. Curioos App is the digital insurance that that oversized print actually fits on your wall. And let’s be honest, where else do we need such an app more than in the poky apartments of London? Curioos still relies on QR-codes you have to print out and stick wherever you want the painting. Then scan the code with your smartphone and you can check how it would look like.

We are getting there.

If you are not already distracted by these apps, let’s go on. Another reason why I think the arts need the tech industry: We breathe digital. We do everything online. From dating, to shopping, even our next generation might be a product of dating apps. So why not the arts? An industry that attracts nearly 50 Million visitors each year, half of them from overseas. That is a big audience and probably just as important to address. And there is something else. I have mentioned a generation produced by dating apps. Remember this noise? Then you are probably part of the generation that shares “If you are from 90s you will know this” Buzzfeed lists on your Twitter or Facebook timeline. Admit it. But, many don’t know this sound anymore.Quite frankly, they won’t know what it is like anymore to wait at home in front of the telephone until someone calls you to come out. And they would not know what’s going on in the world without platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media outlets. And they are the future museum audience. So how do you want to reach them if you don’t know how to use tech?

We are expecting a technological advanced surrounding, so why don’t we demand it? We have televisions, that react to our voice (or record it 1984 style), our fingers are becoming remote controls. Left and right swipe has never been so powerful. And art shouldn’t be left out. We are already seeing an improvement in the digital art movement itself. Olaf Eliasson recently said in an article on TechCrunch: “I think the next big thing will be an innovation that represents the limitless aspects of digital technologies, something that brings about a seamless, sensorial and spatial interface that still invites participation.”  I know he speaks about artforms themselves, but why not expect the same from the institutions which are connecting us with the arts, the galleries and museums out there?

Art is not boring. A Rembrandt can be as exciting as the new IPhone. (maybe less queing on the opening day) If we want it to be. But the artworld has to react. We might not like every direction digital is taking, but we could turn it into our advantage.